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Lawyer's Mistake Dooms Client's Case at 7th Circuit

By William Vogeler, Esq. on February 19, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Once in a while, a case matters more to the lawyer than to the client.

That is no doubt the case in Jaworski v. Master Hand Contractors. The defendant appealed a $340,000 judgment, but the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.

Unfortunately for defense counsel, the appeals court also said it was the lawyer's fault. Add to that an attorney's fee sanction, and you're having a really bad day.

Really Bad Day

With seven parties, it was a mess from the beginning. Basically, Master Hand was a general contractor and the plaintiffs were subcontractors.

They said they didn't get paid, and a trial judge agreed. The issue was over independent contractor v. employee laws.

It didn't really matter on appeal because the Seventh Circuit said the appellant's arguments were fatally deficient. The brief didn't include pleadings, orders and law required by federal court rules.

The appeals court was especially troubled that the appellant claimed to have complied with the rules, when it had not. "Misrepresentations to this court are unacceptable, and this is particularly true here," the panel said.

Frivolous Arguments

It gets worse. The judges said the appellant's brief "aptly" fit the definition of frivolous.

They said it did "not identify a single piece of evidence" to back up one argument. "Such a porous argument is destined to lose right out of the gate," they said of another.

After affirming the judgment against the appellant, the Seventh Circuit also gave an order to the appellees: submit your costs and attorneys' fees.

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